Pope Benedict XVI surprises the world with the announcement that he will resign at the end of the month, including the bishop of the Sioux Falls diocese.
Only a few close advisors of Pope Benedict XVI knew of his intention to step down. So the news rocked many dioceses around the world, including in Sioux Falls.
Pope Benedict XVI's announcement that he will resign as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church leaves millions of people around the world surprised. The bishop of the Sioux Falls diocese had a hard time believing it himself.
"I think like many, 'What! Is this a joke?' kind of thing because it was shocking to everybody," Bishop Paul Swain said.
Swain met Pope Benedict XVI personally in Rome a little less than a year ago. Swain says the pope was showing signs of being tired then already, and while he never expected a resignation, Swain is praising the pope for acting in the best interest of the church.
"Most of us would have a hard time giving up such a powerful and impactful position. But he has obviously come to the conclusion after prayer that it is the best thing for the church and I admire him for that," Swain said.
Swain acknowledges a special place in his heart for Pope Benedict XVI because he was the one who appointed Swain bishop of the Sioux Falls diocese in 2006.
Swain says the recent restoration of St. Joseph Cathedral in Sioux Falls was inspired by Pope Benedict's writings on sacred art and music. Swain says the pontiff will be remembered worldwide as a leader seeking peace.
"In terms of the wider world, he was a man of seeking reconciliation, of dialogue, of peace," Swain said.
Pope Benedict the 16th, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, will return to using his former name when his resignation becomes official at the end of the month.
As far as who will become the next pope, word out of the Vatican is that there is no clear front runner, but the church does hope to have one chosen before Holy Week.